Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday put a meeting with the tax boards and blamed them for allegedly not answering back to grievances of the tax assessees and instructed their officials to fix Saturdays to hold conferences with them.
During the Budget Outreach Programme between Finance Ministry officials, the industry and trade firms in Bengaluru, the General Manager and the Chief Financial Officer of the Karnataka Bank Muralidhar Krishna Rao presented a question seeking transparency on particular requirements of the GST Act and the direct tax reductions affecting the banking sector.
Even before the officials reacted, Sitharaman intruded and pulled up the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) officers.
“I’m very interested to know if the CBIC and CBDT are here. Are you all committing with your own assessees? The questions which are being asked here are not those issues where I want the secretaries of the Ministry of Finance to sit here and clarify. These are for the boards to be with your assessees,” Sitharaman announced.
“I would now tell the CBDT and the CBIC to please maintain your Saturday’s free, engage with assessees and give them all the clarification expected,” she put in.
Sitharaman proposed the boards to notify the tax assessees where the barriers were and if there was a policy tweak expected or if there was a regulation to shift something in the finance bill they can imply the revenue and the finance secretaries.
According to her, most of the issues asked during the interactive session on budget were associated with the two boards, which they were fully authorized to deal with.
“It (the questions) just says me and I’m sorry to have to comment like this on the boards — Are you all crouching in your office and not even accessing your assessees? What’s going on? You’re not anticipating the revenue secretary to be speaking to the assessees for items which you have every power in your hand to sit and explain? Am I over-reading the situation?” Sitharaman announced.
Asking the boards to do reasonably, Sitharaman recounted that they have to maintain their Saturdays reserved for the assessees.